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Henri IV - An unfinished reign


The transitional nature of Henri IV's reign was aptly symbolised by the world of letters. By the time the king had conquered France and had begun to restore peace, the century's two major literary figures – Rabelais and Montaigne – had died (in 1553 and 1592, respectively). Two of the main members of the group of poets known as the Pléiade – Joachim du Bellay (1522–1560) and Pierre de Ronsard (1524–1585) had also disappeared. Between them and the giants of the 17th century, including Corneille (1606–1684), Molière (1622–1673) and Racine (1639–1699), significant literary talents were few and far between. And yet, the era witnessed a varied literary output, and was in certain ways the starting-point for certain movements, including Preciocité and Classicism, that would later flourish.
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